Anthony Capone
05 Dec, 2007

Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow Review

PSP Review | Logan's run gets better.
The Syphon Filter series is possibly one of the most recognised franchises in the short history of the Sony PlayStation, and last year, Sony brought Gabe Logan to the PlayStation Portable in Syphon Filter Dark Mirror. Dark Mirror was well received by critics and fans alike as it brought a title with high production values, fantastic graphics and solid gameplay to a console that was seriously suffering from a lack of good games. Only a year on and Sony has released a sequel, Syphon Filter Logan's Shadow, also exclusively on the PSP (for the time being). Thankfully, Logan's Shadow is every bit as good, if not better, then its predecessor.

Syphon Filter famously follows the black-ops missions of Gabe Logan, the commander of a clichéd top-secret government agency. With his loyal bank of comrades, Logan assumes that tasks that are too sensitive or risky for conventional special forces. The events of Logan's Shadow again puts Gabe on the trail of terrorists bend on world destruction. However, this time Gabe also has to work against forces inside his own government as well as unravelling why his good friend and partner Lian has been tagged as a double agent. The script is not quite as clear-cut as Dark Mirror and it takes you until about half way through the game to understand everything that is going on. Nonetheless, the basic premise of the story is logical, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep players entertained.

The PSP's face buttons are used to aim at enemies.

The PSP's face buttons are used to aim at enemies.
The controls in the third-person shooter are exactly the same as its predecessor – the face buttons are used to aim and the left trigger to lock onto enemies. This scheme is robust and easy to pick up – an excellent feat, given the PSP's limited control interface. There is an also alternative control system that allows players to zoom in with the left trigger, as in Gears of War. Most players will prefer the lock-on scheme, as they will not be able to pull of precise shots using the face buttons. However, for those more fluent with aiming via use of the face buttons, the alternate control scheme allows for more specific shooting. It would have been good if Sony had implemented a control scheme which allowed for locking on and zooming at the same time, as when enemies flank you, the lock-on scheme is essential to staying alive. Indeed, players may find themselves switching between the two options, depending on the combat situation they find themselves in.

However, the control scheme, in terms of aiming, is Syphon Filter's biggest drawback. Because of the PSP's limited control scheme there is no second analogue stick that can be used for aiming. Later levels in Logan's Shadow require execution of some extremely precise shots in order to bring down enemies. While this may not be a problem for more skilled players, the majority will not be able to execute these sorts of moves as the lock-on scheme does not allow for the targeting of specific points.

Nonetheless, the remainder of the control set-up is one of the most satisfying of any PSP game. As in Dark Mirror, by holding down the directional buttons, players can easily and quickly access the selection menus for vision modes and weapons. Cover in Logan's Shadow is entered simply by pressing against a flat surface. The cover mechanic is superb as it is not too sensitive and allows you to aim around corners. Blind fire, one of the new features of the game, also works well and is especially useful for when enemies advance on you. Further, there are more opportunities for players to sneak about this time around then there were in Dark Mirror, and health packs have also been removed, with Logan being granted a suit that recharges health.

Two other new gameplay additions are swimming underwater and grappling enemies from behind. The underwater scenarios feature prominently throughout the game, and surprisingly, control very easily. When you grapple enemies from behind, a mini-game plays out, whereby players must ensure that their captive does not escape.

There are also a number of instances in the game where you have to push the face buttons in the sequence displayed on the screen in order to complete tasks such as moving objects and switching levers. These context-sensitive moves get harder over the game, but are not overdone and help in breaking up the action.

Tackling enemies underwater is just one of many new features.

Tackling enemies underwater is just one of many new features.
The same array of weapons and gadgets feature in Logan's Shadow, including the classic tazer and sniper rifle, which comes with the usual shock, gas and explosive darts. There are a few new guns for you to get your hands on, although there numerous situations in which players will be able to take down enemies with their bare hands.

Missions range from infiltrating and destroying enemy bases to finding lost friends. In between dispatching the multitudes of enemies terrorists and organisations that are out to get you, there are plenty of puzzles that require solving in order beat bosses and advance in the game. The bosses in Logan's Shadow are not as tough as they were in Dark Mirror, but this time you are forced to go toe-to-toe with vehicles – such as submarines and helicopters – as well as human enemies.

The graphics in Logan's Shadow are better then Dark Mirror, and possibly the best that we have seen to date on the PlayStation Portable. The lighting, water, reflections and skies almost rival what you would expect to see on a console. The smallest particulars, such as tracer fire and air exhaled from characters, are all visible and testify to the level of development that has gone into the game. The models and environments are all exquisitely detailed, and indeed, it is somewhat dumbfounding how Sony has managed to squeeze this level of visual grandeur out of the PSP.

The soundtrack is superbly composed. The music helps instil a level of tension in the game, but unfortunately, there only two or three tracks that play over the course of the spy thriller, so they become somewhat annoying after a while. The noise generated by weapons and explosions help capture moments of intense fighting. In addition, the voice-overs are believable as the accents are fully developed (there's even an Australian one in there) and the actors authentically convey the sentiments of the characters. The accompanying game cut-scenes are simply fantastic, being comparable to anything that you would expect to see in a full-feature CGI film, and are worth the price of admission alone.

The six episodes in Syphon Filter Logan's Shadow are broken up into a number of smaller sub-levels, each of which take a little under half an hour to complete. Checkpoints are conservatively littered throughout each of the sub-levels, meaning if you die you will not have to replay large portions of the game. However, checkpoints cannot be saved to the memory stick, so every sublevel will to be replayed from the start whenever the disc is inserted. Load times in the game are very short, but Logan's debriefings keep you entertained during them anyway.

When will enemies learn that bullets and gas cylinders are a lethal combination?

When will enemies learn that bullets and gas cylinders are a lethal combination?
Syphon Filter Logan's Shadow will probably take players over ten hours to complete. If you decide to seek out all the hidden evidence and complete the required amount of stealth and dart kills and the like, the time taken to complete the game can be greatly extended, and by doing this, players unlock a number of bonus levels and some extra content. As another bonus, Sony has also included a demo of the multiplayer game Syphon Filter: Combat Ops.

The multiplayer portion of the game can be enjoyed either ad hoc or online. There are a total of seven maps and five match types, including deathmatch, team deathmatch, rogue agent, sabotage (where players hunt for launch codes to ignite the opposing team's bomb), and retrieval (capture the flag). Players can communicate with via voice-over IP in addition to setting up their own clans.

Syphon Filter Logan's Shadow is everything that you should look for in a PSP game – great graphics, solid gameplay and high replayability. The high production values and well-implemented control scheme ensure the appeal of the single-player portion of the stealth title, and the ample rewards and multiplayer add to the life of the game. Despite the PSP's narrow abilitiy to provide for the shooter genre, Sony has done a commendable job with Logan's Shadow, and it's one of the best PSP games this year.
The Score
Approachable controls, film-like cut-scenes and great graphics make Syphon Filter Logan's Shadow one of the best PSP games of 2007. 9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 years ago
Recently played through Dark Mirror on the PSP and loved it. Took a little while to get used to the controls, but once I did it was great.

The piecemeal nature of the way each episode is split up into parts is just perfect for handheld play.

Definitely picking this one up.
6 years ago
I'll be picking this up when it is released on the PS2.

I have been a fan of Syphon Filter since playing the first game. I thought that the PS2 installment was utter crap compared to it's three predecessors. Splinter Cell then became my favourite Stealth (Syphon Filter wasn't all stealth) game.

But with the good reviews this and Dark Mirror have I will be definitely be buying these and the bad taste from that PS2 nightmare will be gone.
6 years ago
finally a decent psp game!
6 years ago
huhasmyname wrote
finally a decent psp game!
Now that's a bold statement icon_wink.gif
6 years ago
there have been plenty of crap PSP games this year for example i only bought one PSP title this year. But there is some nice stuff coming up GOW Chains of Olympus and Secret Agent Clank that should be a laugh.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  15/11/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $79.95 AU
  Sony Computer Entertainment
Year Made:

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